New south coast partnership takes the lead on responsible dog walkingPUBLISHED ON: 16 AUGUST 2021
Joint press release from Southern Counties Canine Access Management Partnership (SCCAMP)
Top tips on how to make dog walks fun and interesting – while also helping to protect our beautiful countryside – are being shared by a leading canine behaviourist as part of a new regional initiative.
Dog expert Natalie Light and her Jack Russell “Fish” are the stars of a new series of informative films called “Love Dogs, Love Nature”.
The opening film explains Natalie’s passion for pooches and how her walks are a great time to bond with her dog and introduce playful elements – all while keeping her best friend under control and sticking to the paths.
Over the coming months, five bitesize 50-second top tips films will be released, with Natalie sharing advice on how to get a better recall, new games to make walks more fun and ideas for working on your dog’s behaviour around distractions in the outdoors.
The initiative is being spearheaded by a new group, called the Southern Counties Canine Access Management Partnership (SCCAMP). It includes the South Downs National Park Authority, New Forest National Park Authority, Bird Aware Solent, Heathland Hounds, Dorset Dogs and Devon Love Dogs.
Working with the dog community, the New Forest National Park Authority launched a dog walking code to encourage responsible dog walking throughout the New Forest. Additionally since January 2021 over 50 businesses have signed up to a professional dog walkers charter which lists 24 ways that businesses can help care for the forest and provides a standard mark for pet owners to find responsible dog walking businesses. Pet owners can search the businesses on the website at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/things-to-do/walking/dog-walking/professional-dog-walkers-charter/
It also builds on the South Downs National Park’s successful Take The Lead campaign, which has been running for several years and encourages responsible dog walking with simple actions, such as keeping canines on leads around livestock and bagging and binning dog poo. Bird Aware Solent actively works in developing dialogues with dog owners and the dog walking community to raise awareness of – and prevent disturbance to – birds that overwinter on the Solent coast.
Natalie, who hails from Burridge in Hampshire, said: ‘I hope these tips help dog walkers make the most of their time in the countryside, enjoying a stress-free walk and perhaps giving them some training ideas they might not have thought of.
‘Dogs are certainly wonderful for our physical and mental wellbeing. When I’m walking with my dogs I’m enjoying myself and they’re able to explore lots of new sniffs and smells. Our walks are a time for us to be together and enjoy some time outside and also keeping me, as well as my dogs and other visitors, safe by using a lead when I need to. This is particularly important when there’s livestock around.
‘Having a dog is one of the most amazing things in life for me. Going out into the outdoors and having that connection with nature and having my best friend by my side, it’s so uplifting!’
Dawn Rayment, People and Wildlife Ranger for the New Forest National Park, said: ‘Our dogs have many distractions in the New Forest, such as ponies and cattle roaming free on the land. There are also many visitors enjoying the Forest and not all want to be bothered by other people’s dogs – and dog mess!.
‘The New Forest is home to some of the UK’s rarest ground nesting birds which are easily disturbed by dogs running loose. So it’s important to train our dogs to remain close by and be able to recall them at all times.’
Allison Thorpe, who leads Access and Recreation for the South Downs National Park, said: ‘Responsible dog walking is a great way for people to get out, get fit and experience the National Park. However, we also understand that having dogs off leads can have a major impact on farmers, as well as fragile wildlife-rich habitats.
‘The aim of our ‘Take The Lead’ campaign is therefore for everyone to be able to have an enjoyable and safe experience.
‘We know there’s been a boom in puppies since the start of the pandemic and there may be many pet owners who are yet to venture out in the countryside with their dogs. So we hope people find Natalie’s top tips useful!’
Shona Jenkins, who has recently joined Bird Aware Solent as the Dog Initiatives Officer, said: ‘We welcome so many dog owners to the Solent coast every year and we really want to champion responsible behaviours in order to protect the habitats that so many of our bird species rely on. These videos are a great tool to demonstrate how we can enjoy our walks with our dogs, while also taking some easy steps to reduce disturbance and better share our shores.’